THE WORD OF AFAC: the key talking points of the General Assembly
The General Assembly of our association was held at La Teste-de-Buch racecourse on Friday, September 4th. The initial focus centred on a health check of the organisation and the management aspect relative to this particular year.
Our President Axelle Nègre de Watrigant opened proceedings by presenting her annual report. She gave an overview of the 2019 financial year – in the absence of Treasurer Jean-Marc de Watrigant, and our vice-President Yves Plantin. A positive income statement was the conclusion, which will enable us to invest in 2020 so as to arrest the decline in prize money.
The President also unveiled her financial projections for the 2020 racing season, which have undergone constant revision, in addition to elaborating on the 2020 sponsorship situation. She placed particular accent on the loyalty and unconditional support provided by Shadwell, the Sheikh Mansoor Festival, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the Hippos Club and ACA (Association Nationale Française du Cheval Arabe pur-sang et demi-sang).
The major changes during 2020 were unsurprisingly linked to the health crisis. Sadly, at this juncture, the funding emanating from France Galop’s ‘Fond Commun’ has dipped by 27 per cent. This coincides with Qatar reducing its sponsorship commitments, which are directly controlled by France Galop. Our secretary, Jean-Paul Larrieu, also took to the floor where he spoke on health matters, and particularly on the protocols which will be in place during the forthcoming PA sales.
The embryo transfers’ issue. The process of establishing the new rules governing embryo transfers was the subject of much appreciated exchanges of opinion between members. We issued a reminder that several surveys on this matter had already been conducted by the AFAC and ACA members. This was additional to the international discussions and meetings held within ACA. These consultations led to the formulation of new regulations which had the backing of over 90 per cent of the breeders. The new rule reads: "Regarding horses born as of 2022, only one ‘product’ per mare per year which results from embryo transfer will be eligible for inclusion in the French Arabian Horse Stud Book. This amounts to one foal born naturally, and one possible embryo transfer per mare, in the same year. By way of a reminder, animal welfare remains at the heart of our concerns. In accordance with the decision taken by the ACA Board of Directors on November 20th, 2019, and after consultation with SIRE [editor's note: the body that oversees the French Stud Book], the matter was put to a vote. The unanimous verdict (minus one vote) of the ACA Board of Directors, and the Stud Book Committee, was in favour of the ‘one product’ ruling. The declaration of transfer protocol will come into place as of 2021, and the fees relating to this will be to the benefit of ACA. The surplus horses [those that fall outside the one product rule] will be eligible for inclusion in the DSA register where no limitations apply." After a lengthy debate, an overwhelming majority (two abstentions) passed a motion in which France Galop was asked to review the rule that prevents two products of the same generation, and sharing the same dam and sire, from competing in the same race. Around six years ago, AFAC had mooted that it should not be possible to run two horses from the same generation, and sharing the same dam (only), in the same race. Although uterine twins were to be exempt from this. This was to avoid the excessive derivations associated with embryo transfers, and by implication cloning, or other potential forms of genetic manipulation. Such practices are detrimental to the richness and diversity of Arabian horse breeding. At the same time, they also serve to diminish the number of breeders and owners.
The information, in tabulated form, was displayed chronologically, relative to the limitations of embryo transfer worldwide, and was also part of the presentation. It revealed that this process is now underway globally. So it’s now up to us at Afac, together with ACA, to strive for the international harmonisation of the limitation process as quickly as possible.
The renewal process of the ruling body. To wrap matters up, one third of the Board of Directors were up for re-election via the voting process. Jean-Luc Jardel declined to stand for re-election and was replaced by Jean-Pierre Raynal. Four other candidates had their mandates renewed: Jean-Marc de Watrigant, Damien de Watrigant, Hassan Mousli and Gilles Flottes. After the meeting, the ensemble of the delegates attended a buffet, which took place on the terrace of the reception hall of La Teste racecourse. After the PA race meeting had ended, the membership congregated in the 'AFAC Garden' area, which had been set up on the lawn opposite the winning post. This designated space allowed us to gather and share a glass of champagne. It also enabled us to avail ourselves to the deckchairs which had left there for the purpose of following the racing in the sunshine.
We would like to thank La Teste-de-Buch racecourse, and all our members which were in attendance despite the particular circumstances, and we hope to see you again, and in greater numbers, next year.
The complete report will be available in the next few days on our website: www.afac-france.com.
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